Lockheed Martin extends UT research partnership to take on new industry challenges

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Global aerospace and security company Lockheed Martin announced last Tuesday that it will continue a longstanding partnership with UT in hopes of supporting modern engineering research. The company has supported the University through scholarships, student organizations and faculty awards for four decades, but this agreement focuses on increasing engagement with the Cockrell School of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences.

While developing solutions through projects has historically been gridlocked by the renegotiation of research guidelines, Cherie Rachel, research relations director for the Cockrell School of Engineering, said master agreements such as the one between Lockheed Martin and UT can allow schools to focus solely on data gathering and analysis.

“The beauty of a master research agreement is that once you get it in place, you can have projects up and running within a week,” Rachel said. “The time-consuming part in getting a master research agreement in place is not the budgeting and mapping — it is getting consensus from both parties on the terms of the contract.”

The process of starting a research project typically takes several months and sometimes even longer, but once an agreement is signed, new projects can be scoped and started quickly. Professors from the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and the College of Natural Sciences have already been chosen to spearhead projects under the master agreement. These projects will attempt to solve problems regarding cybersecurity, materials sciences, wireless communications and autonomous flight. 

“Lockheed Martin is working to solve generation-after-next challenges, and transformational research and development programs are critical for success in that process,” said Robie Samanta Roy, vice president of technology strategy and innovation at Lockheed Martin, in a news release by Cockrell.

Electrical engineering junior Erin Henschel said she interprets “generation-after-next challenges” as the harsh effects of climate change. Henschel worked as an intern in a group that repaired modules that go into Lockheed’s F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems last summer.

“Engineers must create more energy-efficient daily systems to decrease the overall human effect on the ozone,” Henschel said. “Another thing we can work on are machines that reverse the effects of the extensive damage already done. Our grandchildren will be in the danger zone of climate change, which is why as engineers we must improve upon
these systems.”